Release Date: November 21st 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- O Sleeper
- Unfinished Dream
- To Those Who Wait
It has been 7 years since the members of South African trio released their last studio album Sunday. Since then John Ellis has released a few solo albums and the band went into hiatus. With many rumours and whispers of the band retiring with John singing more social justice and politically inspired songs as compared to the Christian Rock Tree63 were famous for (thus leading to questions from many relating to John’s own personal faith); Tree63 are now back in business- with a new facebook page, a twitter account, and a 4 song noisetrade exclusive EP titled Unfinished Dreams– 4 demo tracks recorded during the time of the Sunday production, but wasn’t on the 2007 album for whatever reason. While questions still remain about John’s faith personally (see blogs about it here), Tree63 are nevertheless recording new material for 2015. With the band now focusing on new songs, it is a great refreshing moment to hear some songs that bring a sense of nostalgia about Tree63’s past, but also remind us of the impact they’re still going to have moving forward. One of the most underrated bands of all time, the South African trio have some unfinished business- of which the EP is appropriately titled.
Standing at four tracks, Tree63 give us a great reminder that songs can still have an impact years later, which is exactly what these 4 songs have, 7 years since when they were recorded. I’m sure many artists have recorded demos of songs that didn’t see the light of day on albums they have recorded, and therefore it’s good to see Tree63 dig through the archives and share with the world melodies that are just as heartfelt and poignant as any song they did record for their last studio album (until now…they are poised to create new material in 2015).
“O Sleeper”, a three minute rock-acoustic melody, is confronting as ever, as John imparts to all the sleepers to awake and to not be in slumber anymore. While we as Christians may not be intentionally sleeping our days away, we may often be comfortable in our lives in more ways than we can possibly think, with this song a wake up call to anyone who hears it. “O Sleeper”, though not necessarily the most warm and fuzziest that Tree63 has done, is nevertheless a necessary melody to hear if you want to be challenged to ‘…rise up from your slumber and walk in the light of the Son…’
“Fortress” declares that we won’t fear the things of the world because of the fortress we have in Jesus, and with the grunging electric guitars, John makes this melody one of my favourites as I, and I’m sure everyone else who listens, rocks on to the 3 minute short but powerful song, as we know who our fortress and solid ground is in. “To Those Who Wait” is a poignant song about patience and waiting until the timing is right for God to act on situations, and while it can seem equally as profound and confronting to place this song as the EP ender as much as beginning with “O Sleeper”, John and the rest of the band still remind us that patience does pay off (especially when it comes to reunions and much needed band revivals).
With the title track giving us a prompting that we, as well as Tree63, ought not to give up on our dreams, no matter what it may look like; this is an out-of-the-box, unique, left field music experience from one of the most enjoyable and underrated CCM/rock band that have ever emerged during the 2000s. It’s been a long time coming for the band, with this EP a taste of what John and his bandmates are creating throughout the last year or so. Expect new material in 2015, and this EP a pre-cursor to what will be one of Christian music’s most interesting comeback throughout 10-15 years. Powerful and prolific, poignant and emotional, Unfinished Dream is an EP that you don’t want to miss if you are yearning for some new material from this South African trio. Kudos to John and the band for this great leap of faith. Here’s to a successful future, and can’t wait for the new songs in 2015!
4 songs to listen to: All of them!
RIYL: Building 429, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North